The Running Mann’s Guide to September Marathons & Ultra


This article provides detailed information on all South Africa’s September marathons including race descriptions, recommendations and travel information.

For those wanting to work off some of the winter fat, it’s still slim pickings as we hit spring on the marathon running calendar: Just six standard marathons and one ultra. However, each one is a quality choice.

After a marathon break of four months in Gauteng, the Vaal River Marathon gets the Highveld going again whilst the Amajuba Marathon in Newcastle, Kwazulu Natal provides a good central option for those in need of a well-organised long run.

However, it is the Western and Eastern Cape that dominate your September options with five of their athletics districts hosting a stunner of a race:

  • In the Border region, East London’s Tony Viljoen Masters Marathon is a point-to-point downhill flyer. This years race has special significance as Tony Viljoen, who founded and led Border Masters Athletics for 40 years, passed away at the beginning of August.
  • Eastern Province Athletics offers you the Friendly City Marathon in Port Elizabeth. This is a friends-with-some-hilly-benefits out-and-back route with plenty of beautiful ocean views along the way.
  • In the Transkei, the Elliot Madeira Marathon provides some scenic countryside running before finishing in the buzzing town of Mthatha.
  • One of the highlights of the running calendar and Western Province Athletics’ crown jewel is the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon – the only IAAF Gold label status marathon in Africa and my recommended marathon for September.
  • The month ends with the Laingsburg Karoo Ultra Marathon in the South Western Districts – 80 kilometres of bliss in the heart of the Karoo Desert.


A summary of your choices is below:

Click to expand.

Recommended Run

Sanlam Cape Town Marathon

In a short few years, the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon has achieved  IAAF Gold label status and has become the fastest marathon in South Africa. The event also dominated 2018 awards ceremonies winning the Sports Industry Awards’ “Mass Participation Event of the Year” and Runners World South Africa’s “Event of the Year”.

Stephen Mokoko wins the 2018 Cape Town Marathon in the fastest official marathon time ever run on South Africa soil (photo supplied).

Having achieved Gold label status several years ahead of schedule, the event organisers are now gunning for Platinum status – and perhaps the honour of becoming the first southern hemisphere marathon on the World Marathon Majors circuit. To do so, 15,000 finishers are needed – so it is your patriotic duty to enter, run (and of course cross the finish line at) the Cape Town Marathon.

I last ran this race in 2017 and can’t wait to see the route improvements that have resulted from successful negotiations with the traffic department to keep the route as pretty and flat as possible (there is no longer any “Burrrrppppp!” – Paarden my Eiland – section). Hurry though, entries close on 26 August!

I’m looking forward to enjoying the Cape Town Marathon festivities again this year.

What I’ll be running this September: Tony Viljoen Masters; Elliot Madeira; Cape Town and Laingsburg Karoo Ultra.

Detailed Information

All race information, links, flyers and travel guidance* verified with race organisers (unless otherwise noted).

* For practical reasons, all directions are from central Johannesburg as (1) the majority of runners are Gauteng based, (2) I live in Johannesburg and (3) whilst all roads might lead to Rome, all roads in South Africa lead away from Johannesburg!

Vaal River City Marathon

South Africa is a country with lots of unique challenges. One additional challenge in the Vaal Triangle is elephant proof fences!

Note: Information from web site. Still awaiting promised feedback from race organiser.

Race Date Sunday 1 September 2019
Start Venue Izak Steyl Staduim Vbp
Route Type Double-lapper
Contact Details
Distance Options 42\21\10\5
Online Entries
Pre-entries Close 23 August 2019
Title Sponsor Rand Water
Perm Numbers? ?
Entry Fee R 230
Extras? Shirt (first 2,000 entries)
Late Entries? ? R260 for late entries
# of 2018 Finishers 1434
Race Description Vanderbijlpark was the missing connection in the Vaal Triangle dot-to-dot marathon puzzle until the Vaal River City Marathon was added to the calendar in 2017 (the other dots being the well-established Sasolburg and Vaal Marathons). Despite the name, Vaal River City, you should not expect to see a river of any kind during the race and, depending on your definition of civilisation, it is also debatable whether you see a city either. Being the first chance to run a marathon in Gauteng since the beginning of May, the event has already become very popular and race organisation remained faultless despite doubling participants to over 2,500 across all events in 2018. Vanderbijlpark makes Benoni look like the French Riviera and the fast and flat double-lapper is unlikely to provide any visual distractions – but the runners are full of post-Comrades chatter so this is a great chance to greet some old friends and make some new ones.
Why Run It? Work on your mental game with two laps around Vanderbijlpark.
How To Get There? 70km (1h) drive south with many access points
Accommodation Options Check out Google for B&B and hotel options
What Else To Do There? Enjoy an afternoon at the Vaal Dam or check out for other options.
Race Flyer VaalRiverCity_routemap


Detailed Race Report: Vaal River City Marathon (Running circles around the Vaal Triangle)

Tony Viljoen Masters Marathon

The late Tony Viljoen (centre) watches over the finish line of the 2018 Masters Marathon. He’ll be watching the 2019 event from the great grandstand in the sky (photo from race’s Facebook page).
Race Date Sunday 01 September 2019
Start Venue N6 Cobongo
Route Type Point-to-point
Contact Details
Distance Options 42
Online Entries
Pre-entries Close 26 August 2019
Title Sponsor NFB Private Wealth Management
Perm Numbers? No
Entry Fee R 160
Extras? Handout (first 750 entries)
Late Entries? Yes R175 for online entries; no race day entries
# of 2018 Finishers 641
Race Description This is a very fast route with a substantial altitude drop between the start in Macleantown to the coast at Beacon Bay in East London. The course provides 40km of stunning rural scenery before the final 2km drop down into the Nahoon River Valley suburbs to round things off. The quad shattering descent has an age restriction of no persons under 35 (actually it’s organised by Borders Masters Athletics who specifically cater for road running for over 35s and the prize categories are in five year groupings from 35-39 up to the oldest runner in the field).
Why Run It? This is a race specifically designed for those who’ve been on the planet long enough to appreciate the beauty of spring in the beautiful Eastern Cape Province. The race is 42 years old this year and is therefore celebrating its “marathon birthday”!
How To Get There? Fly to East London; 50km (45m) drive to Macleantown
Accommodation Options Search accommodation sites for Beacon Bay if you would like to stay very close to the finish, but there are many great overnight stays close by in Nahoon, Stirling, Selborne all within 10 minutes.
What Else To Do There? Stunning Indian Ocean beaches, game reserves, great pubs and restaurants with river or beach views to die for!  Check out for more.
Race Flyer  TonyViljoen2019 entry form

Friendly City Marathon

Runners head along Marine Drive during the Friendly City Marathon (photo supplied).
Race Date Saturday 07 September 2019
Start Venue Fountain Vineyard Church, Miramar, Port Elizabeth
Route Type Out-and-back
Contact Details;;
Distance Options 42\21\10
Online Entries
Pre-entries Close 04 September 2019
Title Sponsor Rafi’s & Builders Warehouse
Perm Numbers? Yes (10 finishes)
Entry Fee R 130
Extras? Shirt (first 350 at registration)
Late Entries? Yes
# of 2018 Finishers 212
Race Description This year is the 25th edition of the Friendly City Marathon. The race offers a picturesque trip from the leafy suburb of Miramar to the Nelson Mandela University campus and back. In between, runners get to enjoy a gentle drop down to Marine Drive before hitting the Indian Ocean at the 8km mark; after which you hug the rugged and scenic coastline most of the way to the turnaround point. However, beware the gentle drop to the coastline in the first half – it transforms into a lethal 3km slow poison climb to Schoenmakerskop village on the way home.
Why Run It? Port Elizabeth is indeed the “Friendly City” – put their hospitality to the test by running their marathon. Just hope that you don’t get to experience their other moniker, the “Windy City”, on race day!
How To Get There? Fly to Port Elizabeth and 7km (10m) drive or 1,050km (11h) drive
Accommodation Options There are a number of great hotels along the promenade for various budgets including The Boardwalk Hotel and Casino, The Radisson Blu Hotel, The Garden Court Hotel and the Courtyard Hotel. There are also well priced B&B options a short drive from the beach.
What Else To Do There? Addo Elephant National Park, Elephant back safari, Addo double Zipline, SAMREC Penguin Patrol, Sundays river cruises, Volkswagen Autopavilion, Whale watching, Scuba Diving, Mountain Biking, Quad Biking, Horseback riding, Helicopter flips, Donkin Trail, Many eateries, beaches, museums and game parks – more details at
Race Flyer  Friendly City Marathon 2019 Info

Elliot Madeira Marathon

Free range chicken shopping – Mthatha Style. R30 a chicken (cheep, cheep!).
Race Date Sunday 08 September 2019
Start Venue Bumbane Great Place, Mthatha, EC
Route Type Point-to-point
Website N/A
Contact Details;
Distance Options 42\21\10\5
Online Entries
Pre-entries Close 01 September 2019
Title Sponsor None
Perm Numbers? No
Entry Fee R 150
Extras? Goodie Bag
Late Entries? Yes (No race day entries)
# of 2018 Finishers 119
Race Description A point-to-point race from the countryside into the heart of Mthatha over an undulating route. There’s a festival-like atmosphere at the finish with plenty of entertainment for the adults and kids.
Why Run It? For those that want to run a marathon in every athletics province, this is one of only two standard marathons in the Transkei.
How To Get There? Expensive flight into Mthatha or Fly to East London & 230km (3h15) drive to Mthatha
Accommodation Options Free accommodation in local community halls for all athletes. Check out Google for B&B options.
What Else To Do There? Visit Nelson Mandela’s home and the Nelson Mandela museum or use as a base to explore the beautiful Transkei landscape.
Race Flyer  Elliot Madeira Charity Club Marathon – 08 Sep 2019

Cape Town Marathon

It’s always nice to enjoy looking at an iconic mountain during a marathon (without having to actually run over said mountain) (photo supplied).
Race Date Sunday 15 September 2019
Start Venue Beach Road, Green Point (next to Haul Road)
Route Type Circular
Contact Details Web Form
Distance Options 42\10\5 + 22\12 trail
Online Entries
Pre-entries Close 26 August (with payment no later than 31 August 2019)
Title Sponsor Sanlam
Perm Numbers? Yes (10 finishes)
Entry Fee R 270
Extras? Shirt; Goodie Bag
Late Entries? No
# of 2018 Finishers 7663
Race Description For South Africans, this is your chance to experience a big city marathon without having to foot a big city travel bill. For international runners, this is your chance to plan a holiday in South Africa’s tourist mecca whilst enjoying a fantastic, world-class marathon experience. The Cape Town Marathon is Africa’s only IAAF Gold label status marathon and the super-speedy course boasts the fastest official marathon times run on South African soil.
The race starts at one of Cape Town’s most popular tourist attractions, the V&A Waterfront, where 10,000 runners are released onto the Atlantic Seaboard. The early nerves are calmed by the cool sea breeze whilst the exuberant sounds of excited runner chit-chat harmonise to the beat of the crashing waves as one heads up Sea Point Promenade. From there it’s into the city, where a cosmopolitan mix of modern skyscrapers and iconic historical landmarks like the Mount Nelson Hotel, South African National Gallery, South African Holocaust Museum, St Mary’s Cathedral, Houses of Parliament, City Gardens, City Hall, District Six and the Castle of Good Hope provide a visual extravaganza whilst Signal Hill watches over your progress.
Then it’s straight down Main Road, past Groote Schuur Hospital (where Dr. Chris Barnard performed the world’s first human to human heart transplant) and into the southern suburbs. Catch a glimpse of the hallowed turf of Newlands Cricket Ground as you circle around and start heading back towards the city centre.
This area is home many top academic and sporting schools – and the route passes several of these outstanding institutions including the finest boys’ school in the country, Rondebosch. In the interests of gender neutrality, it’s appropriate to mention some of the great girls’ and co-ed schools passed along the route like Rustenberg, Westerford, San Souci, Groote Schuur and Bishops Diocesan College.
Your journey back into the city centre is delayed via a quick detour around Rondebosch Common – providing a chance to appreciate some critically endangered biodiversity as you loop around one of the last surviving pockets of Cape Flats Sand Fynbos.
The incredible panorama of Table Mountain, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, provides the backdrop for your journey home as the noise, support and entertainment steadily increases all the way back to the finish line at Green Point Stadium.
Why Run It? Experience African gold, the only IAAF Gold label status marathon, by running around one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The race won the 2018 Mass Participation Event of the Year (Sports Industry Awards) and 2018 Event of the Year (Runners World South Africa) so come and see what all the fuss is about! For the carbon conscious, this is also a certified Green marathon – the 2018 event achieved zero waste to landfill and is certified climate neutral.
How To Get There? Fly to Cape Town; 20km drive from the airport to the Waterfront.
Accommodation Options Tsogo Sun Waterfront is race hotel, Tsogo Hotels offer special packages to runners
What Else To Do There? Cape Town is one of the world’s top tourist destinations. Check out travel information on race website ( and the Cape Town Tourism site ( for options.
Race Flyer Sanlam-Cape-Town-Marathon-ENTRY-FORM-2019

YouTube Route Profile

Detailed Race Report: Cape Town Marathon

Amajuba Marathon

The start of the 2018 Amajuba half marathon and 10km. 2019 sees a full marathon added to the menu (photo from Amajuba District Municipality Facebook page).
Race Date Sunday 22 September 2019
Start Venue Old Monte Vista Casino, Newcastle
Route Type Double-lapper
Contact Details;
Distance Options 42\21\10
Online Entries
Pre-entries Close N/A
Title Sponsor None
Perm Numbers? No
Entry Fee R 180
Late Entries? Yes
# of 2018 Finishers N/A
Race Description After starting with a 10km in 2017 and adding a half marathon in 2018, Newcastle City AC have added a marathon to the menu in 2019. The mostly flat route is broken up by two major hills.
Why Run It? A good way to get an early Oceans and/or Comrades qualifier under the belt.
How To Get There? 300km (3h15 drive) south
Accommodation Options Check out Google for B&B and hotel options
What Else To Do There? Do a tour of the historic battlefields area.
Race Flyer  


Laingsburg Karoo Ultra

Enjoy 80 kilometres of blissful Karoo running (photo credit
Race Date Saturday 28 September 2019
Start Venue J.J.Ellis Sport Grounds
Route Type Circular
Contact Details
Distance Options 80\21\12
Online Entries
Pre-entries Close 24 September 2019
Title Sponsor None
Perm Numbers? Yes (10 finishes)
Entry Fee R 100
Extras? Goodie Bag
Late Entries? Yes (late entries only for 21/12)
# of 2018 Finishers N/A
Race Description Run an awesome 80km in the heart of the Great Karoo. A one of kind race with 15km of tar and the rest on quiet gravel farm roads while you enjoy the peace, beauty and serenity of the Karoo Desert. The route starts at an altitude of 642m and slowly climbs to 922m at the 44km mark – the good news is that “it’s all downhill from there”. If you’re lucky, the natural phenomenon of the spring wild flowers will be in full bloom during your run.
Why Run It? Some people run half marathons, this is your chance to run a half hundred miler. At R1.25 this is also the cheapest “rand per kilometre” race in the country.
How To Get There? 1150km (11h) drive south along the N1 or fly to Cape Town and 265km (3h) drive / George and 230km (3h) drive.
Accommodation Options Check out Google for B&B and hotel options
What Else To Do There? Take a walking tour commemorating the flash flood of 1981; Visit the town’s three museums or nearby Matjiesfontein.
Race Flyer Laingsburg_route_description


  • I will update this page as additional information becomes available/is provided.
  • If you have anything to add (or correct) please drop me a note.
  • I’m happy to answer any questions – feel free to contact me on social media Twitter / Facebook / Instagram
  • I plan to add route profiles and maps in future versions but don’t have time to chase these down at present.
  • Marathon/ultra race organisers: I will be in contact to get information for future events but feel free to jump the gun and contact me directly.

See you on the road!

Previous Months

READ MORE: The Running Mann’s Guide to January Marathons

READ MORE: The Running Mann’s Guide to February Marathons

READ MORE: The Running Mann’s Guide to March Marathons

READ MORE: The Running Mann’s Guide to April/May Marathons

READ MORE: The Running Mann’s Guide to August Marathons



The Running Mann runs his marathons in shoes supplied by the Sweat Shop Broadacres and Asics South Africa

Header photo: Cape Town Marathon (supplied)

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